What an amazingly busy season this has been for the Fast Family! Between ministry and three very busy kids there is nothing slow about our family.
January – March has seen non-stop travel for me (Ryan). I started the year with a trip down to Southern California to speak at schools and churches and then rushed back home to speak to students and help run the student component of the annual Mission ConneXion conference in Portland. After which, Erin and I headed north to Vancouver, Canada to run a Teen Missions booth at MissionsFest Vancouver where I spoke at three different seminars. Finally, I spent two weeks on the road speaking at schools & churches throughout Northern California and the Bay Area.
A highlight during this time came late in February, when I was invited to speak at a youth retreat attended by three churches in his area. The youth pastors were interested in having a “missions themed” event where their kids could learn more about what it means to be on mission for Jesus both here at home and around the world. I absolutely loved speaking to the 75 students who attended the retreat. I shared about how God calls all of us, including teens, to be on a mission for Him. Erin and I were both able to attend and had some much-needed down time together before I left for Winter Jam on the East Coast.
I, as well as two other representatives of Teen Missions, just recently completed the Winter Jam concert tour on the East Coast. As I like to describe it, “You kind of grow to be one big family when you are out on the road touring like we do on Winter Jam.” This means that during the first three months of this year, 150 people have traveled over 25,000 miles to 47 cities to put on concerts and share the Gospel. They did this with the help of 13 busses and 4 semi-trucks and saw nearly 600,000 people attend. At each of these concerts Teen Missions (TMI) would set up a booth and recruit 10 volunteers, normally Former Team Members or people familiar with TMI, to help at it. In addition to this, I would speak at a youth leaders’ reception each night, plus Teen Missions had a promotional video and an artist endorsement from the main stage would take place. Even though Erin was 3,000 miles away, she was able to participate alongside me in a unique way. From October – March Erin spent most of her evenings working on her computer, recruiting volunteers to staff the booth each night. With over 47 different cities on the East Coast tour alone, each requiring at least 10 volunteers, she spent many hours communicating with Former Team Members and those associated with Teen Missions to connect them with volunteer opportunities in their area.
Highlights from the Road
It would be impossible to tell you all the highlights from the road with Winter Jam. From connecting with Former Team Members to praying with youth pastors, each venue took on a character of its own as we watched the Holy Spirit bring people by our booth. One night I had a mother approach me stating that her young son was very interested in attending the “Peanut Program” that TMI offers for 7-9 year olds. She told me that at a previous concert her 9-year-old son had been given a brochure about TMI and had told her he wanted to go to the Peanut Camp and learn about missions. She had dismissed him by telling him that when he got enough money together to pay for the camp she would think about sending him. Her son, had then gone onto Facebook, set up a site to raise money for the camp, and as a result had raised all the money to go! Thus she was now attending this concert trying to learn more about us, since she had told him he could go if he got the money! Additionally, she told me that her son’s twin sister was also raising money to come to the camp and she’d like to come and volunteer!
Life on the home front continues to keep us on our toes. Our three children are discovering what it means to love one another, even when things don’t go as they expect it. Micah and Abby recently completed two months of swim lessons. Abby is excited to use her new-found swimming skills in Florida this summer while Micah is beginning to master some of the different swim strokes as he swims the length of the pool. Abby had the opportunity to participate in an after school soccer clinic and she has discovered that she does enjoy playing soccer. She is asking, even now, if she will be able to play next fall for her school team. Micah meanwhile has returned to playing spring soccer and enjoys playing defense alongside his classmates on the field. Amidst these extracurricular activities Zeke continues to make us smile. He is the family clown and is often doing some antics to get his siblings or parents to laugh. He is beginning to develop a language of his own and he is now able to communicate his needs and desires to family members, even if others may not understand what he’s saying.
This spring our family will be taking a major step of faith. Every year I am asked to report to Teen Missions on May 1st to begin preparing for Boot Camp. Typically, Erin and the kids follow once school gets out in mid-June. This year we have decided to travel as a family to Florida on May 1st and spend the last six weeks of the school year homeshooling in Florida. Micah and Abby are excited about the opportunity to school in our dorm room in Florida and explore many of the educational opportunities that Florida has to offer. Please pray for Erin as this is a HUGE step of faith for her.
We are excited about the opportunity to return to Korea this summer. Our family will be leading a team of teenagers to South Korea to teach English to youth who are participating in a camp with Child Evangelism Fellowship. We are looking forward to working alongside the national staff of Child Evangelism Fellowship this summer because they have a passion for getting Korean youth on the mission field. God is really answering our prayers surrounding our upcoming summer mission trip. Since we put out the word in late January of the $4,500 we had to raise to bring our whole family with us on the trip God has raised all of the support. We praise the Lord for his provision and we thank many of you for your generous gifts during this time of need.
Please pray for the 56 cities that were visited on both the West and East Coast Winter Jam tours. Pray for a burden for the lost to be put on the hearts of people from these cities, for God to raise up another generation of young missionaries and for young people throughout the USA and Canada to share the Gospel around the world with Teen Missions Int’l.
Pray for the youth who are going on 44 teams to 31 different countries this year with Teen Missions Int’l. If you would pray for our team of 21 students and four adults leaders we would be much appreciative. Please pray for effective ministry, for wisdom as we teach English and share the Gospel, and for unity amongst the team.
Pray for us as we raise our children. Pray that they will learn to understand how deeply the Lord loves them and that they will individually desire to have a genuine and passionate relationship with Him. Pray that we will have wisdom as we school from the Teen Missions base in Florida during May and June.
Know that in Christ we love you all deeply!
Ryan, Erin, Micah, Abby & Zeke Fast